UK faces file-sharing crackdown

Peter Mandelson, UK's secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, is planning a major crackdown on illegal file-sharing, according to reports over the weekend.

The issue of copyrighted material being shared online is already the subject of an official, post-Digital Britain consultation, which is due to close on September 15. However, Stephen Timms — the successor to Digital Britain author Lord Carter — told the Financial Times on Friday that the issue was a "live area" and proposals to tackle copyright violations should perhaps be brought forward.

Digital Britain recommended a year-long trial period where ISPs send letters to suspected file-sharers. At the end of that year, if fewer than 70 percent of the recipients stopped sharing copyrighted material, the report suggested the imposition of technical measures to restrict bandwidth or block certain protocols. It is that year-long period that could now be shortened.

"The measures in the Digital Britain report may evolve slightly," a spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) told ZDNet UK on Monday. "What we've heard from people [during the initial stages of the consultation period] was a lot of criticism that those tech measures wouldn't be introduced for a number of years, until 2012."

BIS's spokesperson denied reports that Mandelson had decided to become more involved in the issue after dining with music mogul David Geffen in Corfu last week.

"[Mandelson] has been very close to [Digital Britain] the whole time," the spokesperson said. "Carter was brought in to do the job, but, at the implementation stage, it's only natural that Lord Mandelson will take more of an interest."

This article was originally posted on ZDNet UK.